Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

coloradobirdJuly 9, 2006

I hope I'm not becoming annoying . . .

I have a question about space needs for this grass. I am planning a new perennial flower bed and was thinking a couple of stands of grasses in the middle would be very nice. The bed is about 5' wide and 15' long. Would Karl spread much? It seems like a very upright grass that could be surrounded by perennials and look very nice. But, if I surround it by flowers, it won't be easy to get in there and divide it.

What do you think, is my idea a good one, or a bad one?

Forgive me if I'm becoming a pest (more on the order of a gnat than a big ol' slug, I hope).

Oh, btw, we've had days of rain--good for the grasses I planted earlier in the week (and VERY unusual for Colorado at this time of year).

Thanks much!

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molie(z6 CT)

I have it growing for 2 years now in my long's a wonderful grass and does not spread much. Right now the flowerheads are a russet color and make a great accent behind my perennials as they sway in the breeze. We have planted many grasses and this has turned out to be one of our favorites.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 4:15PM
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Thanks, Molie. I'm so glad to hear it because I'm going out and buying two of these!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 10:23PM
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blackie57(z5 NY Broome Co)

Get three, never plant in even numbers.. ;)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:48PM
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windwhipped(Z4 WY)

I have had mine for three seasons now and they have grown to about 15 inches wide. I think how wide it gets will depend on how much you have crowded around it. Remember you will need to have some access because you need to cut them back each spring.

It's a beautiful grass, one of my favorites. I especially like it during the winters when the other plants have died down. I have it in a garden bed in the front yard and I can see it a block away as I am coming home - it always makes me smile.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 8:45PM
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molie(z6 CT)

I agree with windwhipped... this grass is beautiful in the winter, especially against the snow. Enjoy! And, yes...plant in odd numbers.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 6:46PM
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odd-numbers...1 nice grass, on either side of the entry path to a garden, counts as two odd-numbered (1) plantings.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 7:01PM
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I'm joining Donn here. Grasses such as Karl can be specimen plants and two can make a good statement.

You won't need to divide it. And at the time you need to cut it down the flowers should not be up high anyway.

Karl will not spread much at all.

I have a bed approx the same size and the focal point is a Hydrangea, and on both sides of it I have Molinia Skyracer, one on each side. Surrounded by a bunch of different perennials. Three would be overwhelming.

And don't hesitate to put ornamental grasses towars the front of the bed. They can be real showoffs there.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 12:25AM
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jake(z4b-5 NE)

One on either side does equate to a pair of odd numbered units however your minds eye will not see them as odd numbers but as a pair which is an even numbered unit.

Is it semantics or is it factual ?? Either way Karl being planted and used as sentinels at the garden entrance is a formidable statement that I have used in several garden designs.

I have used both Karl and Heavy Metal, separately of course, to serve this purpose well.
Both are very vertical and clean in their starched presentation.

Gotta like Âem both, anywhere, in a landscape.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 12:30AM
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Thanks for the comments, everyone. I ended up with two, because two seemed to fit the space better than three. After things grow in, I may add some smaller grasses toward the front.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:32PM
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I live on the Central CA. coast.
I have 24 of these beautiful plants. Put in the ground at 5 gallons exactly one year ago, they are comfortable enough to constantly put out runners....lots of runners. That is something I had not expected and presents a constant maintenance challenge. They favor the yards wetter areas and are not doing well on slopes where the ground stays fairly dry. Cutting back 24 of these plants is proving to be a nightmare. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 11:52AM
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It will be a chore, but if you re-plant them in heavy duty bottomless pots, you'll limit the suckering almost entirely. Use pots at least a foot deep, and leave an inch exposed above ground. Then cover that with mulch.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 2:28PM
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I have several in different places around my yard, with one on each side of a garden entrance, & they all look wonderful. They haven't spread, are 7 yrs old & have not needed dividing. One of my faves.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 11:58PM
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I planted 30 on each side of my driveway with a blue spruce, nine bark diablo and royal red maple for some color and texture contrast. I'l post some pics near the end of the second growing season. It already is getting lots of complimens from neighborhood dog walkers! Mass planting grasses is a great way to go if you have the real estate!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 9:58PM
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